By Katie Pappas, Reuters – As millennials are increasingly worried about the future of the U.S. economy, their leaders are increasingly finding comfort in memes, according to a new report.
In the most recent edition of “The Power of Memes: The Power of the Internet,” an anthology by researchers at Princeton University, millennials were surveyed about the influence memes have on the way they think, feel and act.
The report says memes, like social media, have been in high demand by young people since the election of Donald Trump as president.
“The meme generation is already here, with millennials taking a look back at the election cycle and finding the memes they liked the most,” said study author Jennifer L. Dube, a senior research fellow at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy and Innovation.
Millennials’ concerns about economic instability, terrorism and the environment are all shared by older generations, she added.
“Millennia is going to be looking for answers to these questions, and they are finding them through memes,” said Dube.
While most millennials think of memes as a form of entertainment, the study suggests that the rise of memes has been a boon for millennials in particular.
Millennial memes are becoming more prominent, with more than half of the memes being made by people who are 18 to 25, the report found.
Millions of young people were particularly interested in making memes, said study co-author Jody D. Gaffney, a professor at Princeton.
They are also finding them as a way to communicate, she said.
“Young people, they’re more likely to find it entertaining, and the memes are creating an environment for people to engage with,” Gaffneys said.
Millian memes are a way for young people to communicate with each other, Gaffreys said.
The internet also has an impact on how people see themselves.
“People feel like they’re in control, and people are more likely than they used to be to express themselves on social media,” Gaffe said.
“They’re finding that more of that influence is coming from the internet, rather than from traditional media.”
Millennium memes are often made in the context of the presidential campaign, said Dubena, and include the word “Trump” or “Trump,” “Trump 2016,” “Mitt Romney” or even “Donald Trump 2016.”
The researchers said they have found a correlation between memes and political candidates.
“What you’re seeing is that the more memes you see, the more the candidates get a look-in,” said Gaffes.
“When you have people expressing their views on the election, you’re not just seeing that, but also you’re hearing from people who know people who support them,” Gubes said.
Trump has taken a strong stance on social issues, especially on abortion and transgender rights.
He’s called out Democratic candidates who have spoken negatively about him, and has taken to Twitter to express his frustration.
He’s also tried to get more attention for his businesses.
He has an Instagram account, which he calls #DaddyTrump, and he owns a company called Trump Entertainment Resorts.
Dube said that even though the presidential election is shaping up to be the most divisive in U.N. history, millennials have also been taking note of what is happening.
“There are a lot of people who think that millennials have had an outsized impact on the country.
That’s a really good thing,” she said, noting that millennials also seem to have been watching social media as a means to communicate.
Dubena said she’s also heard from millennials who are concerned about the effect that social media has had on politics, especially during the presidential race.
“A lot of young millennials, especially young women, feel like their voices are being drowned out, they don’t have enough visibility, they feel like the platform they use to speak up is being drowned by the political conversation,” she explained.
Duba said that millennials should be careful about what they share online.
“We know that millennials share things online that aren’t always in line with their values,” she added, adding that the power of social media can make it easier for them to manipulate the public and spread their messages.
“As millennials, we want to be accountable, we have to be transparent,” she stressed.
“You’re always going to have a conversation about how you want to look at your own life, and how you see yourself in the future.
The more we see how others are thinking about us, the better we’ll be able to talk to ourselves.”
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